Friday, December 14, 2007

A Classic Oscar Winner

Twas movie time this morning. Unfortunately they've been few and far between lately. But is there a better breakfast than popcorn after pressing play on a flick? Methinks not. So much to choose from but I was in the mood for old and classic.

The Bad And The Beautiful (1952) movie poster (starring Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner)The Bad And The Beautiful


Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner,
Walter Pigeon, Dick Powell,
Gloria Grahame, Barry Sullivan

Directed By
Vincente Minnelli

It's probably a story that's timeless: someone wants to be at the top of his game, a King, looked up to by everyone around him, and he uses everyone to reach those heights. That's what happens here with Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas,) the son of a recently deceased Hollywood movie producer. Jonathan wants to reach the status his father once had but he has to climb the ladder from almost the dirt floor level. Being a likable man with a personality that has the ability to shine, reaching greatness, while it took some time, was rather easy for him. But not easy for those around him.

There are primarily three points of view to illustrate the story of Jonathan's rise. The first is from Fred Amiel (Barry Sullivan,) a successful director who years before was Jonathan's right hand man. When a chance to grab a slice of the richer pie presented itself, Jonathan left Fred in the dust.

Georgia Lorrison (Lana Turner) was a successful actress whose very life Jonathan probably saved. He made her a star. But when it came to romance, he wasn't the type to settle down, in fact, he seemingly just used Ms. Lorrison to propel himself upward.

The third victim of Jonathan's was James Lee Bartlow (Dick Powell.) He was recruited by and fell in with Jonathan to turn his Pulitzer Prize winning novel into a script that would become a classic on the silver screen. A tragic turn of events helps ruin that relationship.

Years later, film executive Harry Pebbel (Walter Pigeon) brings together these three to help revive Jonathan Shields' career which has taken a turn for the worse. While so many owe their success to him in one way or another, his star burned out and now he's hoping for better days.

Gloria Grahame won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in a very small part as writer Bartlow's wife, a southern belle who Jonathan wants out of the way while he and Bartlow hang out at Big Bear working on the script of the greatest movie of all time.

Oscars were also won for Best Screenplay and Cinematography while Douglas was shut out for Best Actor (he lost to Gary Cooper for his performance in High Noon.) Lana Turner has an interesting role here, displaying quite a range of emotion. While so beautiful and purely captivating, when Douglas was on screen with her, it was him I found myself watching most. Some sort of hidden homosexual attraction? Uhh, not quite. Douglas here was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award. Every aspiring actor should watch him in this role. This was the kind of acting that wasn't acting, it was as natural as a person can be. Just amazing and maybe one of his best performances ever.

While the story here is an interesting look at the slimy side of the Hollyweird film industry and some of the ilk within, there aren't many deeper levels to explore. There was no Wow feeling at the end.
Director Vincent Minnelli, best known for lavish musicals, does create near-perfection and seeing that left me quite satisfied.

The Bad And The Beautiful (1952) lobby card (starring Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner)

No comments:

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated